The Health Secretary has announced that Essex is to face Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions from Saturday.
Restrictions will include a ban on household mixing indoors, meaning residents will only be able to meet other households socially-distanced outdoors in groups of six. This decision will not separate existing support bubbles.
Pubs, restaurants and shops will remain open, with the 10pm curfew and the rule of six remaining in place.
The restrictions will apply to areas covered by Essex County Council, meaning Thurrock and Southend will not face new restrictions.
The move comes after officials requested the county be moved from Tier 1 to Tier 2 restrictions following a rise in coronavirus cases.
The leader of Essex County Council, Cllr David Finch, has reacted to the news:
“We welcome the Government’s announcement today regarding Essex moving to the High local Covid alert category, which is clear recognition of the severity of the situation we find ourselves in as a county, and indeed across many parts of the country.
“We think the Government has decided correctly, guided by the science and the fact is that the number of cases in Essex is rising exponentially.
“We understand that the move to the High local Covid alert level may affect people’s lives and businesses and understand the very strong feelings about this. However, we have a duty of care to the people of Essex, and we firmly believe that this is the best route to minimise disruptions, to save lives – not just for those with the virus, but for other patients as well – and to protect businesses.
“More information is available on the GOV.UK website around specific restrictions which apply to the High level category.“These are difficult times for individuals, businesses and communities, but I know that as a county we will come together to support and protect one another – as we have done previously – and that acting sooner rather than later to curb the spread of Covid is the right thing to do.”